WSOP Players To Watch: The Circuit All Stars

The 2015 World Series of Poker is fast approaching and the convention space at the Rio will be filled players looking to make their mark on poker history. Circuit grinders have found recent success at the WSOP level. Ryan Riess built his bankroll with a big WSOP Circuit score and went on to win the WSOP Main Event, Aaron Massey has been in the top 20 off the BLUFF Power Rankings for the better part of the last few years and players like Joe Kuether continue to make a killing at this level while chasing success on the biggest stages of poker.

The bottom line is that players at the domestic circuit level are having a huge impact on the WSOP, with players on the Heartland Poker Tour and WSOPC honing their skills and building their bankrolls to put themselves in position for even greater success when the biggest money is on the line.

Austin Buchanan


Career Earnings: $380,937
WSOP Earnings: $49,130
WSOP Cashes: 6
WSOP Bracelets: 0

Austin Buchanan is one of the most consistent players on the domestic circuit. He cashed 18 times in 2014 in mostly WSOP-branded events and has already hit the cashier window seven times this year including this past March when he won his first Circuit ring at the inaugural WSOPC Baltimore.

Buchanan tends to run well in large-field events – he cashed in the 2014 WSOP Monster Stack and Main Event – and is well suited for multiple low buy-in, huge field events offered this summer. He’s also shown he can hang in a bigger buy-in event. Last November Buchanan finished 20th in the $5,000 buy-ubBuchanan has only played seriously since 2011 and has nearly 60 career cashes to his credit.

Alex Masek

Alex masek

Career Earnings: $992,532
WSOP Earnings: $47,658
WSOP Cashes: 12
WSOP Bracelets: 0

Alex Masek holds the record of most WSOPC rings with eight and has nearly $1 million in live career earnings. Masek went to law school in San Diego, which brought him closer to the game, and 15 tournament wins later he still hasn’t worked a day as a lawyer.

Masek has final tables from the World Poker Tour, won three straight events on the North American Poker Tour and has 44 cashes between the Commerce and Bicycle Casinos in Los Angeles. Masek cashed four times at the 2014 and 2013 WSOP after cashing just once in the three previous years.

Wendy Freedman

Wendy-Freedman 2

Career Earnings: $409,440
WSOP Earnings: $21,802
WSOP Cashes: 3
WSOP Bracelets: 0

Wendy Freedman just might be one of the best up-and-coming female players you haven’t heard of yet. She has final tables on the WSOPC, the Heartland Poker Tour, the Borgata Poker Open and Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open. She’s also managed to rack up more Las Vegas and Los Angeles deep finishes but has yet to record a six-figure cash.

On thing that sets Freedman apart is her ability to play almost all of the games on the WSOP schedule. She’s already won a WSOPC ring, cashed in a $1,500 HORSE event at the 2012 WSOP and finished in the money in two huge No Limit Hold’em WSOP events which had a combined 11,083 entrants.

Jose Montes

Jose MontesCareer Earnings: $839,801
WSOP Earnings: $0
WSOP Cashes: 0
WSOP Bracelets: 0

It seems a bit odd that Jose Montes would land on the list considering he’s in the top ten in the 2015 BLUFF Player of the Year standings but he’s only been playing seriously since 2012. Montes put himself in the POY discussion with winning two of the biggest $1,600 events of the year – the HPT Golden Gates Main Event and the WSOPC Choctaw Main Event – a combined 2,124 entrants.

Nick Pupillo

Nick Pupillo
Career Earnings: $346,784
WSOP Earnings: $99,981
WSOP Cashes: 1
WSOP Bracelets: 0

Nick Pupillo discovered poker before he was legally able to play, got a job as a poker a dealer and eventually transitioned to playing full time. He cashed a twice in 2013 as he worked to build his bankroll and then at the 2014 WSOP he finished in 12th place in the Monster Stack event for essentially $100,000. In less than a year he’s cashed 30 times and won four tournaments.

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Paul Oresteen

Senior Writer: Paul Oresteen originally joined BLUFF in 2008 as an intern. He covered two World Series of Poker’s before leaving to join After a two year hiatus Oresteen returned to BLUFF in November 2012. Since starting as a poker journalist Oresteen has covered the World Series of Poker, WSOP Circuit, World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour. He graduated from Georgia State University with a B.A. in Communications in 2008.
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